Windows Vista: What to Do?
by Reid Goldsborough
A personal computer’s
operating system is its brains. It tells your programs how to interact with
your hardware, transmitting your intentions into words, calculations, photos,
or any of the other tasks PCs handle.
Whenever an operating system is
upgraded, it’s big news. The release of Windows Vista, the newest version of
the world’s most popular personal computer operating system, is huge. It forces
you to make a decision. Should you switch?
The short answer for most is,
Watch and wait. If you already knew this, you can stop reading now. If you’re
curious about some of the ins and outs, read on.
I’ve read everything I can about
Microsoft’s latest and greatest, talked to some key people, and run Vista on
one of the machines here.
Magazine, the leading monthly
computer magazine, is gung-ho, as you might expect. Geeks love new tools. The
magazine staffers installed Vista onto about five dozen computers and put it
through hundreds of hours of testing, Jeremy Kaplan, the magazine’s executive
editor, told me in a phone interview.
“There aren’t any glaring problems
that would cause us to advise people to wait to upgrade,” said Kaplan. The
upgrade process itself, he said, is “painless.”
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> can mean different things to different people and
different computers. The upgrade, for one thing, costs anywhere from $99 (for
the no-frills, so-what “Home Basic” version) to $259 (for the complete
But to take advantage of all the
features in the Ultimate upgrade, you need a new and powerful computer.
Microsoft provides a “Vista Upgrade Advisor” (<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>windowsvista.com/upgrade) that you can
download and run to help determine which version of Vista is right for you.
Microsoft’s minimum requirements are a bit minimalist, though, and for best
results, your machine’s processing power, memory, hard disk, and video card
should be a bit beefier than indicated.
One of Vista’s key selling
propositions is improved security. Compared with Windows XP, Windows Vista does
a better job of helping prevent hostile programs and Web sites from attacking
your PC. But if you’re already using a security suite such as Norton Internet
Security or McAfee Total Protection—and you should be—you’re already
Way Cool Swooshes and
Other Interface Innovations
The most noticeable change in
Vista is its interface. If you have even a little geek in you, you’ll no doubt
find it cool. The windows are transparent and animated, and they swoosh into place,
provided you have the right hardware.
The interface provides more
function along with form. When you use Alt-Tab to switch among open programs, a
three-dimensional thumbnail stack is displayed so you know exactly which
program you’re going to. And the new search technology not only makes it quick
to find files you may have saved to the wrong folder, it also makes it quick to
start programs without digging through Start Menu folders.
Vista has a ton of other built-in
features, including the performance-boosting preloading of programs, an
Internet weather-forecasting module, an image-editing and slide-show utility, a
movie maker, a parental-control tool for protecting kids, and better tools for
networks and notebooks.
What You Might Wait For
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> contends that Vista is reliable, with much
credibility. But others advise a wait-and-see approach, which has long been the
most prudent approach to major upgrades. The first service pack, or bundle of
bug fixes and product enhancements, will likely be out sometime during late
summer or early fall.
David A. Milman, founder and CEO
of Rescuecom, a national computer-repair outfit that bails people out of PC
trouble, advises individuals and businesses not to switch to Vista just yet.
“We’d hate some minor glitch to result in major headaches for our customers or
anyone else,” he says. “We suggest waiting six months.”
In short, if you’re an “early
adopter,” and you know enough to know what that means, you may want to dive
right in. If you’re a typical home or small-business user, weigh your hardware
horsepower and the extra functionality that Vista provides, and consider
upgrading when the service pack comes out.
If you’re responsible for a
business with 500 or more computer users, you don’t need me to tell you that
any move to Vista will require testing and more testing to make sure it works
with your existing programs and security system.
One last option, which I suspect
will be the default for the vast majority of people, is to keep your current
setup until it’s time to buy a new PC. It will come preloaded with Vista, and
you’ll know it has everything needed to run everything Vista has.
Reid Goldsborough is a
syndicated columnist and author of the book <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or members.home.net/reidgold.